Brooklyn Staycation: A Day In Kensington

Photo by KensingtonBK
Photo by KensingtonBK

Looking for a way to get away without the hassle of taking a trip? Brooklyn Staycation is your guide to taking a breather without ever leaving the borough. Each week, we will zoom in on different Brooklyn neighborhood. Today, we will take you on a walk through Kensington and its surrounding area. Check out more Brooklyn Staycations here.

From quiet streets lined with trees and rowhouses to vibrant communities of immigrants from around the globe — from Bangladesh and Pakistan to Italy and Albania — Kensington is an incredibly diverse neighborhood nestled near the two lush and historical oases of Green-Wood Cemetery and Prospect Park.

During your day in the neighborhood, treat yourself to cuisines from throughout the world, relax in a Turkish bathhouse, see the graves of Civil War generals and baseball legends at Green-Wood Cemetery, explore some of the 585 acres that make up Prospect Park, and much more.

Photo by KensingtonBK
Photo by KensingtonBK

How To Get There

To get to Kensington, take the F or the G subway lines to the Church Avenue or Fort Hamilton stops, or the F to the Ditmas Avenue or 18th Avenue stops.

You can also catch the B8, B16, B67, B68, B69, B70, and B103 local buses to our area, as well as the BM1, BM2, BM3, and BM4 express buses.

What To Eat

Kensington’s cuisine is an incredibly varied one, with everything from Middle Eastern to Mexican to Thai restaurants lining the neighborhood’s streets. Whether you’re in the mood for more traditional Americana dishes or want to embark on an international adventure for the palate, this is a great place to explore.

Coffee at Steeplechase. Photo by KensingtonBK
Coffee at Steeplechase. Photo by KensingtonBK

Breakfast/Brunch

In the mood to just grab some coffee and go? Steeplechase (3013 Fort Hamilton Parkway) will leave you happily caffeinated — plus you can grab some sandwiches and pastries to go with your iced coffee or cappuccino at the spot that’s been named one of the top 10 coffee shops in the entire city. Or maybe you’d rather go the more traditional route and nab a bagel with your coffee — in that case, head straight for Hot Bagels (127 Church Avenue), a spot that we guarantee will dig a cream cheese-filled place into your culinary heart.

It's easy to locate Steeplechase, even if you're running low on caffeine -- just look for the big coffee sign. Photo by KensingtonBK
It’s easy to locate Steeplechase, even if you’re running low on caffeine — just look for the big coffee sign. Photo by KensingtonBK

For those of you starting the day closer to Prospect Park, check out Elk Cafe (154 Prospect Park Southwest), a family-friendly coffee house that was recently opened by a Kensington resident, Kari Browne, who also owns the much-loved Lark Cafe (1007 Church Avenue).

If you’re in an organic state of mind, head to Brooklyn Commune (601 Greenwood Avenue), where you can grab breakfast (including a tofu scramble, cheese grits and more) until 12pm on weekdays and 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Or if it’s Latin American fare you’re craving, nab the breakfast burritos at Moondos Grill (424 Church Avenue).

Eggs benedict at Le Paddock. Photo by KensingtonBK
Eggs benedict at Le Paddock. Photo by KensingtonBK

Feel like sitting a spell for brunch? Le Paddock (1235 Prospect Avenue) consistently lands heaps of love for its eggs benedict and more — plus it’s a great place to kick back, relax, and sip a bloody mary. At Hamilton’s (2826 Fort Hamilton Parkway), relax at the restaurant’s new outdoors seating while watching the buzz of Fort Hamilton Parkway.

Lunch/Dinner

When your stomach starts rumbling around lunch and dinner time, take a walk down Church, McDonald, and Coney Island Avenues and prepare to take a culinary trip around the globe — Thai, Indian, Mexican, Japanese, Pakistani — the options are practically limitless.

Heaps and heaps of deliciousness at Brancaccio's. Photo by Mary Bakija/KensingtonBK
Heaps and heaps of deliciousness at Brancaccio’s. Photo by Mary Bakija/KensingtonBK

At MashAllah (663 Coney Island Avenue), you can have a feast of Pakistani food without breaking the bank — try the butter chicken, lamb and squash malai jamun (all of which costs about $20). Stuff yourself at Hunger Pang (1021 Church Avenue), which is owned by Kensington resident Medwin Pang and features an eclectic and drool-worthy menu focusing on American-Asian fare — we say go for the pulled pork poutine and yuzu margaritas.

Tacos El Catrin (265 East 7th Street) and El Mirador (59 Church Avenue) serve up Mexican dishes that will no doubt draw you in for more. And, speaking of places that will keep you coming back time and again, you’ll never go wrong with Brancaccio’s Food Shop (3011 Fort Hamilton Parkway), where the restaurant’s namesake, Joe Brancacccio, whips up a chicken parm and baked eggplant like you’ve never had before.

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A drool-worthy pie from Fina. Photo by Meema Spadola

More in the mood for pizza? Relax with a pie and a glass of wine at Fina (3007 Fort Hamilton Parkway), or check out the deliciousness at Wheated (905 Church Avenue), where all the pizzas are named after Brooklyn neighborhoods — which means you better order the Kensington!

Batata-sweet-potato-falafel-2.jpg
The sweet potato falafel at Batata. Photo by KensingtonBK

While there’s not much room to eat inside the relatively new Sawasde Thai Kitchen (359 McDonald Avenue), you can grab a bite from the restaurant that’s been getting rave reviews and try to snag a spot at one of its outdoor tables. Or, if it’s Middle Eastern treats you’re craving, get yourself to Batata (3021 Fort Hamilton Parkway), where we could practically live on the sweet potato falafel.

Local Watering Holes

The Church Cafe Wine Bar will be offering an all-day happy hour on Wednesday to celebrate Dan Snow's art exhibit at the restaurant.
Cocktails at Church Bar. Photo via Church Bar

Whether you have your sights set on grabbing a glass of wine while listening to some jazz or you’d rather grab a cheap pint and hang out by the jukebox, you’ll find it in our neighborhood.

At the newly debuted Church Bar (416 Church Avenue), you can imbibe a cocktail while admiring art from local artists on the walls and listening to the eclectic range of live music that’s often there, from Irish bands to DJs spinning international dance tunes. Still have a hankering for more music? At Bar Chord (1008 Cortelyou Road), musicians play everything from reggae to folk and jazz.

Live music at Bar Chord. Photo by Mary Bakija/KensingtonBK
Live music at Bar Chord. Photo by KensingtonBK

Also on the newer side, The Adirondack (1241 Prospect Avenue) offers up outdoor seating and frequent beer tastings alongside its cocktails and all-New York draft list that has landed it much love in the media spotlight.

If it’s dive-ier bars you’re looking for, our neighborhood has some of the best in the city, including Shenanigans (802 Caton Avenue) — where you can enjoy a Guinness in their back patio, or dance your heart out to tunes wafting from the jukebox — and Denny’s (106 Beverley Road), which, for decades, has been attracting people from throughout the area with its affordable ales.

Denny's. Photo by KensingtonBK
Denny’s. Photo by KensingtonBK

For those of you planning your staycation for later this fall, make sure to stop by a longtime favorite in the area, 773 Lounge, which is expected to reopen in September after a devastating fire destroyed it last November.

Things To Do

Want to take it easy after all that food? Relax for a bit at Brooklyn Banya (602 Coney Island Avenue), a Russian-Turkish bathhouse that was recently lauded as one of the city’s best indoor activities — which you can enjoy while kicking back with the beer and wine they serve there (or the liquor you’re permitted to bring on your own). For those of you who are more into yoga, swing by Jaya Yoga (2902 Fort Hamilton Parkway), which just celebrated its 15th anniversary.

Prospect Park boaters
Free rowing at Prospect Park. Photo by KensingtonBK

Whether you want to continue the slower pace or get your heart pounding again, Prospect Park is the place to go. A 585-acre oasis, there’s something for everyone, whether you want to go boating (for free!), take a Battle of Brooklyn monuments tour, or get your groove on at Lola Star’s roller skating parties — which are for those of you ages 21 and over and which features a variety of themes, from ’70s disco to Xanadu to goth.

For all of you animal lovers, don’t let yourself leave the park without seeing the horses at Kensington Stables (51 Caton Place), which offers trail riding, lessons, and more. Or, consider taking a stroll through the park with a companion — volunteers are always needed to walk the dogs looking for homes at Sean Casey Animal Rescue (153 East 3rd Street).

If you brought your bike on your staycation, strap on your helmet and head to Ocean Parkway — home to the country’s first bike path, which was established in 1894. The path runs from Ocean Parkway and East 8th Street in Kensington all the way to Coney Island.

Green-Wood Cemetery. Photo by KensingtonBK
Green-Wood Cemetery. Photo by KensingtonBK

Still pining for some more outdoor time? Head over to Green-Wood Cemetery — located right around the corner from Steeplechase, Brancaccio’s, Fina, and Batata (walk straight down Fort Hamilton Parkway and there’s no way you’ll miss it). Founded in 1838, the now-National Historic Landmark was one of the first rural cemeteries in the United States. By the early 1860s, the green haven became known across the country and attracted 500,000 visitors a year, who would flock there for family outings, carriage rides, and more.

Green-Wood Cemetery. Photo by KensingtonBK
Green-Wood Cemetery. Photo by KensingtonBK

Home to more than 560,000 graves — including those of Leonard Bernstein, Boss Tweed, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Civil War generals, baseball legends, and more — Green-Wood is situated on 478 acres of hills, valleys, and paths that you could spend your entire day exploring. It’s also an incredible place for bird watching (and there are quite a few bees flying around as well).

If you don’t feel like meandering around Green-Wood by foot, you can also take trolley tours of the historic space, during which you’ll hear stories of the cemetery’s permanent residents, tread on the same ground where George Washington and his troops fought the Battle of Brooklyn (which the cemetery will commemorate on Sunday, August 30), and more.

Church Avenue. Photo by KensingtonBK
Church Avenue. Photo by KensingtonBK

Whatever you do, explore. Wander the streets. Talk to people. Learn about Kurosawa from a bartender at Hamilton’s. Chat with shop owners on McDonald, Church, and Coney Island Avenues about their past lives in Bangladesh — and around the globe. Most of all, have fun in this incredible corner of Brooklyn.

And that’s just the beginning. There are more great things to do in Kensington than we could possibly list here. To keep up to date on what’s happening in the neighborhood, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to our daily newsletter.

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Anna Gustafson

Editor of Ditmas Park Corner

Comments

  1. Sounds less like a day in Kensington than a day in places you can walk to *from* Kensington. Bar Chord – that’s Ditmas Park. “585 acres” of Prospect Park? Yeah, no – technically *none* of that is in Kensington, but it would have made sense if the article at least focused on the section of the park adjacent to it. Hunger Pang? Prospect Park South.

    Local journalism is so pathetic these days.

  2. Look, Kensington is not a “destination” — despite Green-Wood Cemetery, which is gorgeous. It’s a place where people live and work. Need a lamp? A library? Car repair? Gardening supplies? Glass? Furniture upholstering? All there. Go farther on Fort Hamilton Parkway, and you’ve got two enormous vegetable markets (well, admittedly not in Kensington — more like 68th Street).

    Lots of little houses and good-looking apartment buildings. A tidy, free-standing United States post office. And one of the best places to purchase paint, Paint By George, on McDonald.

    (No more Saul’s on Church Avenue, though — the best Nova Scotia salmon in town. But that was over forty years ago.

  3. So, let me get this straight: Bar Chord is now considered Kensington? Wheated? Isn’t Coney Island Ave the border here?

  4. I agree completely. Love Kensington, and would have been interested in staycation ideas actually located in Kensington, but if there aren’t any, that’s okay too. A “staycation” just means you make day trips but come home at night. NYC is an easy place to staycation in.

  5. Few things are more silly than nit-picking over precise neighborhood boundaries. So Bar Chord is a half-block outside of Kensington? Heaven forfend! I bet no Kensington resident ever crosses big, bad Coney Island Avenue.

    And thanks to this column, I actually learned about some things I didn’t know were in Kensington.

  6. Hey folks, I definitely disagree that “basically none of them are in Kensington,” but I’d be happy to hear your suggestions for places to include the next time we do something like this! You’re also welcome to email me if you’d like- editor@ditmasparkcorner.com.

  7. I appreciated hearing about a number of places I wasn’t familiar with. Guess I live on the border of Kensington and Ditmas park. People are never happy and will always find ridiculous things to nitpick and complain about. I’ve been in Brooklyn my whole life and here in Kensington for 8 years. Keep up the good work. To the people who are chronic complainers..if you don’t like the suggestions let’s see whatcha got. I’d like to see folks try and do a better job. By all means enlighten us.

  8. It might not be a destination but the title is Kensington staycation. Some of the places might be considered Windsor terrace but there were plenty in Kensington which I wasn’t familiar with since I’m closer to Ditmas park and don’t get to Church avenue all that much..though a bit more since the F train isn’t stopping at Ditmas ave. So when I do take the walk to Church it’s good to know some spots around there that definitely sound like they’re worth checking out.

  9. Same here. I live a block away from Bar chord across Coney island ave. Some folks aren’t happy unless they’re complaining.

  10. Ugh I think your Nola card should be torn up if you’re gonna nitpick about establishments that are a block over the supposed dividing line.

  11. Forgive me for caring about geography and accurate reporting. I wasn’t nitpicking, I was just trying to hold the journalism on one of my favorite blogs to a higher standard. Also, if anyone gets a chance, be sure and check out this awesome pizza restaurant called Roberta’s in Fort Greene. Also, when in Soho, you simply must go to the top of the Empire State Building. The views of Nevada are stunning.

  12. This troll is a white Republican male trying to make African Americans look stupid. Black lives matter too much to let white reactionary Limbaugh ditto-heads turn them into laughingstocks.

  13. Agree with your disagreement, Ms. Gustafson. I think it’s really great to see the love for neighborhood businesspeople and I, too, got ideas for excursions. This edge of the park has gotten so little love over the years and yet it can easily compete with the Slope above 5th Avenue. (I love the new 5th Avenue so I can’t in all honesty say Kensington competes with that–yet!)

  14. I don’t get your meaning. Black lives *do* matter more than our staycations. Saying so might seem “obnoxious” to some people (whether it truly is not is another issue), but I don’t see how it’s “stupid”.

  15. I guess I don’t understand it either then. Hard to imagine a “context”
    in which anyone’s “staycation” is more important than the deaths of
    young black men at the hands of police.

  16. Brooklyn Banya, Jaya yoga, Sean Casey, Hamilton’s, Dennys, Kensington stables, and a load of others are all Kensington you wannabe know it all.

  17. You understand that by context, I meant the placement of these comments in every article, regardless of what the article is about. But you are getting better at trolling at least- now you’re commenting under multiple names, Daisy/Ballantine/jiff/whatever else you come up with.

  18. Wow, you’ve gotta be one of the douchi*st guests around. Article is great and gives people an idea of things to see and discover in or around the neighborhood. Good Job Anna and keep up the great work!

    PS. I think guest is Nora…. Check her IP address 😉 jk

  19. Do you enjoy talking to yourself, Mr. Troll and associated Sock Puppets? It must be more entertaining for you than it is for the rest of us.

  20. Sure is funny how all of these “different” people responding to me don’t have clickable names. No need to lash out just because your act has been exposed by multiple people now.

  21. What’s funny about it? You just log out of Disqus when you want to be Daisy, jiff or whomever, spew your nonsense and then log back in to be “Greg B.”

    Pathetic.

  22. So why not an article focusing on them instead of touting Bar Chord, ALL of Prospect Park, etc? It’s sloppy journalism and an insult to Kensington. No excuses.

  23. I didn’t mean to sound negative. I think of Green-Wood Cemetery as a “destination,” to see gravestones bearing names like Cortelyou, Montague, and Van Brunt; or Shannon’s as a “destination,” (i.e., I need a new rose bush) and so on. I don’t think of a whole neighborhood as a destination, really. Although I do remember being taken to Washington Square Park to see beatniks playing acoustic guitars around the fountain.

    Neighborhoods didn’t used to have such specific names and boundaries. Flatbush was Flatbush. We lived on the southwest side of Prospect Park; where did Kensington begin?

    As for staycations, I do them all the time. No one to medicate the cat.

  24. Yup you seriously are one ugly hearted troll who obviously didn’t even bother to read the freakin article. If you read it you’d know that they were all highly touted. And only a complete and utter jackass would complain about Bar chord being included. I’ll take bar chord any day over every other bar in the area. Sorry if you can’t handle that it’s 20 feet away from Coney island avenue. You don’t get laid or out much do you. I can’t imagine any woman wanting to be anywhere near your mouth…you literally shit where you eat. You’d do alot better to stick to the age old adage..If you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all.

  25. Counterattacks in an attempt to shift attention and confuse. Standard troll stuff, friend. Disappointing.

  26. only those who do not want to say they live in Flatbush (which they do) Keep in mind Bugs Bunny is from Flatbush.

  27. I’m not a troll just because I have an opinion. This was a poorly written article if it was supposed to be about things to do IN Kensington. If it wasn’t, then it was poorly titled. “Flatbush Staycation” would have worked just as well.

    As for your personal attacks on me, well, those speak for themselves, don’t they? Keep ’em coming, they amuse me no end.

  28. This is a great and very well-rounded guide to things to do in the area. As someone spending a lot of time in this locale this summer, it’s nice to be reminded of a few other places to check out besides my usual haunts. The discussion over what is and isn’t Kensington is just hilarious. People have a lot of opinions about dividing lines of the hoods and really waste a lot of time pointing them out. My feeling is that if I can walk to it within 10 minutes, then it’s “my neighborhood” – it matters little what it’s named, because it’s a place that people who live here can easily enjoy. All these places are adjacent to Kensington, and depending where you are in Kensington, it could be closer or farther. I am on the edge of Kensington, where Bar Chord, Prospect Park AND Hunger Pang are quite close. Right on, DPC.

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